50 Startup Companies to get inspired in 2012 – Part 5

The rise in entrepreneurship in the last few years is overwhelming. The change from the popular mindset of becoming salaried individuals right after college to the mindset of becoming an entrepreneur, no matter what the education level is, is awesome.

Startup CompaniesThe guy behind kolakube.com confesses starting his first entrepreneurship when he was in grade 1. How? He sold Oreo cookies! Entrepreneurship is a vast world, which exists beyond your age, gender and race.

Anyways, after some different stories in the last few days, let’s come back to the last part of startup companies. Before that, you can peruse part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4.

Open up your mind and receive these new startup ideas.

41. eBuzzing.com

CEO: Pierre Chappaz

Business Idea: Advertising and social media channel

Estimated Value: $75 million

Our Take: Amid global advertising and social media platforms, you have eBuzzing.com that is on the forefront of the European social media scene.

An initiative like this is beneficial because it helps the business to grow locally. No matter how much we become globalized or high marketing techniques we acquire to understand the global market, the novelty to understand and utilize the ‘home’ market does not lose its charm.

The reason why eBuzzing.com has made this list is because of its unique advantage – they are not offering advertising and social media globally, they are targeting a particular continent –Europe.

Gemini, GIMV and Light Speed are some of the investors in eBuzzing.com.

42. Lifebooker.com

CEO:Arnold Reichman

Business Idea: Health and beauty based daily deals

Estimated Value: $75 million

Our Take: In an era where health awareness and beauty preservation is at its all time high, a daily deals site like lifebooker.com becomes a necessity.

The makers of lifebooker.com offers discounted health and beauty appointments at very affordable prices. In the current turbulent US economy, this kind of service is a boon for people.

Perhaps if the economy hadn’t been fragile, their success would have been hard to come by but the situation is very different for them. This shows that the success of startups depends much on external factors too.

Steve Messer and Edison Ventures are the investors in this company.

43. Stack Exchange

CEO: Joel Spolsky

Business Idea: Q & A

Estimated Value: $80 million

Our Take: When there is a horde of free discussions and forum sites, what is the use of Stack Exchange and more importantly, why does it feature in this list?

Stack Exchange is a network of Q & A sites and in the past one year, it has become known for its network of quality question-answer segments. It is a highly maintained and controlled network, which is why thousands of users visit this site daily.

In 2011 March, they raised about $12 million and Business Insider has valued it at $80 million for this year.

Index Ventures, Spark Capital and Union Square Ventures are its investors.

44. Shazam.com

CEO: Andrew Fisher

Business Idea: Buy and share music

Estimated Value: $100 million

Our Take: In the mobile savvy generation, Shazam.com is the haven for music lovers. Its novelty lies in its capability to buy and share music while you are on the move.

Why is Shazam.com so special? For instance, you are traveling on the metro and someone near you is playing a beautiful song. You want that song too. You use Shazam.com on your phone – activate the Bluetooth, the Shazam.com app detects all the songs playing near you and downloads the same for you! Isn’t this amazing?

Evidently, it works with Bluetooth enabled devices and most of the mobile handsets these days come with Shazam app pre-installed.

It is rightly called the music sharing and discovery mobile application.

DN Capital and Institutional Venture Partners are some of its financers.

45. Plenty of Fish

CEO: Markus Frind

Business Idea: Online dating

Estimated Value: $100 million

Our Take: Don’t get fooled by the name. It’s not about fish! Plenty of Fish is an aptly named online dating website for singles.

This Vancouver based site is rumored to earn about $30 million per year through advertisements. Good achievement for a free online dating site.

46. Pontiflex.com

CEO: Zephrin Lasker

Business Idea: Prompting user signups

Estimated Value: $100 million

Our Take: Small, medium and large businesses pay heavily to get people on their database – generate leads and increase potential revenue. Thousands of sites claim to deliver business leads, how many of them actually deliver?

Pontiflex.com expertly uses digital media to spread targeted ads given by advertisers and prompts user sign ups. Last year, they launched their mobile advertising service and it has been steadily growing.

In other words, this is an entirely lead capture site that delivers real time sign ups to the advertiser’s site…and going by the 2012 estimates and 2011 revenues, they are doing really well.

If you notice, this business idea is not new, thousands of others are dabbling in the same but there is no substitute for hard work and strategic marketing, which Pontiflex.com staff indulges in; hence, they are climbing steadily to the top.

RRE Ventures, New Atlantic Ventures and Greenhill SAVP are its investors.

47. Miniclip.com

CEO: Robert Small

Business Idea: Gaming online

Estimated Value: $105 million

Our Take: I mentioned a more popular online gaming company in the previous lists but this is included too because it is a ‘self-funded’ startup. The CEO invested whatever seed money was necessary in the beginning.

Given the kind of competition the online gaming industry has, self funding a startup would seem suicidal but miniclip.com has successfully survived and doing well, I would say.

They engage about 65 million players per month. Their revenue source is a mixture of virtual goods sales and advertising.

In 2011, they earned about $35 million in revenues.

48. Manta.com

CEO: Pamela Springer

Business Idea: Small business networking

Estimated Value: $120 million

Our Take: With the concept of small business catching on fast, the business model of manta.com serves this growing band of small business owners, giving them a place to create and list their small business profiles and network with other small businesses.

The business idea is good because it is tapping into a growing demand by small business owners for a platform to gain exposure and generate revenues.

In 2011, manta.com had about $30 million in revenues. Reservoir Venture Partners LP and Athenian Venture Partners are its investors.

49. Warby Parker

CEO: Dave Gilboa and Neil Blumenthal

Business Idea: Discounted prescription glasses

Estimated Value: $120 million

Our Take: In 2011, Warby Parker sold about 100,000 prescription glasses at discounted prices.

What does this prove?

The Warby Parker founders have tapped into a market where the revenue for online prescription glasses might be less but they have negated this fact through huge sales globally. Marketing reports show that the demand for prescription glasses doesn’t seem to lessen, which gave Warby Parker their idea behind discounted prescription glasses.

This business model ensures repeat customers annually.

SV Angel, Davis Smith, First Round Capital and Lerer Ventures are its investors.

50. Thought Equity

CEO: Kevin Schaff

Business Idea: Video and licensing

Estimated Value: $120 million

Our Take: The online world is vulnerable because anyone can scrape or infringe on the written and/or video content of others and pass them as their own. Right?

Thought Equity protects your videos from copyright infringement with their footage licensing service. On the other side, they also offer video development services. Hence, if you are running a business and want to run some video promotional campaigns, get them licensed first.

It is a good idea because there is a huge demand of protection from copyright infringement.

In 2011, they earned about $40 million in revenues. Shamrock Capital Advisors is its main investor.


Thus, we finally come to the end of the massive list of inspiring startups. I hope the list of companies were inspiring to you.

The purpose of this task was to brainstorm you with 45+ new online business ideas and inspire you to start your own.

We will follow up this list with some important tips to begin your start-up business online.

50 Startup Companies to get inspired in 2012 – Part 4

Running a startup is too difficult especially when you don’t have the manpower. More than manpower, you need able hands to visualize what you’re thinking and help you take the right path. Best Startup Companies Alas! It is very rare to come across such guides and mentors.

If you already have one, consider yourself lucky! All the startups we are mentioning in this list have had some kind of guiding force, be it in the form of a mentor, a trusted friend, or a supportive family member.

Let’s continue with our list. In case you have missed the first 3 parts, catch up with Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of the series.

31. Zynga

CEO: Mark Pincus

Business Idea: Online/social gaming

Estimated Value: $11 billion

Our Take: Remember Cityville and Farmville? These are the top two online games designed and developed by Zynga. Even I was a Farmville addict for 2 years! Cityville receives about 100 million daily active users.

What I am saying is that the online gaming industry is very large and that there is a large market waiting to absorb creative and mind blowing games like the above. Truly, Zynga has established itself as a standalone leader in the social gaming industry. In 2011, its revenue was approximately $600 million and this year, it is predicted to cross $1.5 billion.

Zynga has close associations with social networking sites like Facebook on which they sustain and provide the users an enriching experience. Its virtual revenue model is surely giving them high returns.

32. Groupon

CEO: Andrew Mason

Business Idea: Online daily deals

Estimated Value: $10 billion

Our Take: Clearly, Groupon is the pioneer of the daily deals concept. It is an often used marketing strategy these days like classifieds and other marketing strategies. The concept became so popular that within a year, hundreds of Groupon clones have sprouted up all over the Internet.

The ‘Daily Deal’ revenue model has given the company tremendous growth in the past years. Even though certain experts feel that Groupon would begin to lose its novelty factor given the fact that its IPO stands on shaky ground, I, as a consumer, feel that Groupon has a longer path to tread.

In 2011, its estimated revenue was $3 billion.

33. Twitter

CEO: Evan Williams

Business Idea: Micro-messaging service and social networking platform

Estimated Value: $8 billion

Our Take: Who would have thought that 140 character messages would become so powerful of a business strategy, giving thousands of people the opportunity to earn thousands of dollars online?

Twitter continues to enlarge and spread its tentacles wide. Every small, medium and large business has a dedicated twitter accounts promoting its products and services. In 2011, twitter hit 100 million active users and about 250 million tweets are being sent out daily by users.

As with every other knowledgeable online marketer, we too feel that twitter has immense potential as a social media marketing platform and since the online business is booming even in this decade, twitter will survive and make its founders billions.

34. 360Buy.com

CEO: Liu Qiangdong

Business Idea: eCommerce in China

Estimated Value: $10 billion

Our Take: We know how the Chinese government has imposed red tape over the Internet, which is why websites like Amazon, Twitter and Facebook are inaccessible there. However, given the fact that eCommerce is a booming industry and also because they didn’t want to lag behind their western counterpart, you have Liu’s 360Buy.com, an eCommerce site solely dedicated to China.

Wal-Mart and Digital Sky Technologies are its investors. The eCommerce site is known as the Amazon of China.

Clearly, this initiative is feeding a huge demand by online shopper and thus, it is likely to sustain itself very well over this decade. As we know, business is all about the niche and it’s USP. The niche and USP of 360Buy.com lies in its geographical restraint imposed by the government.

35. Dropbox.com

CEO: Drew Houston

Business Idea: Document, image and video sharing

Estimated Value: $4 billion

Our Take: The reason behind Dropbox success is its unique service – you get to upload and share your documents, images and videos with anyone you want, and store the same in a dedicated cloud server from where they can be recovered anytime and on any device! This is a compact service and that too is free. Yes, it has a premium membership account but you get so much with the free account and people love it – it’s the Dropbox success.

People think that since the cost of cloud computing is getting cheaper, the revenue of Dropbox will take a back seat too but they are very wrong. With decreasing cloud computing prices, Dropbox is also lowering their costs, and in the process, their revenue margin is soaring higher and higher.

Dropbox has immense growth potential as a repository of saving and storing important documents. Think of yourself – won’t you feel like paying for such a private service? Of course, you would!

36. Living Social

CEO: Tim O’Shaughnessy

Business Idea: Social daily deal site

Estimated Value: $3 billion

Our Take: Living Social is an example of selecting a niche within a niche. It is similar to Groupon, which is catering to a niche market. Now within this niche market, Living Social has built a business by zeroing in on a niche within a niche. How?

Living Social is a social daily deal site, which means that it brings promotional codes and discount offers from places which are good places to socialize in your city or town. Its like bringing a group of people together, allowing them to socialize without spending too much.

In 2011, it received $400 million in funding and most likely, it had revenue of $1 billion.

37. Palantir Technologies

CEO: Alexander Carp

Business Idea: Data analysis

Estimated Value: $2.5 billion

Our Take: The Palantir Technologies is an analytical platform, hiring the best minds in the industry to analyze financial data and government information.

The platform is much in demand by large organizations, which is why Business Insider has given it $2.5 billion valuation. In 2011, they earned $100 million approximately.

38. Hulu.com

CEO: Jason Kilar

Business Idea: Online video service

Estimated Value: $1.6 billion

Our Take: It is not big as YouTube but Hulu.com has its own niche market. It is an online video service provider that offers a selection of movies, clips and TV shows.

This shows that in startups, you must never get intimidated by your competitor, YouTube in this case. If you have a strong belief in your idea, go ahead by any means.

In 2011, Hulu.com generated about $500 million, keeping the fact in mind that the website keeps a maximum of 40% in revenues. It came as no surprise that media moguls like Google were trying to buy off Hulu.com but it hasn’t been acquired yet.

39. Airbnb.com

CEO: Brian Chesky

Business Idea: Local accommodation available locally

Estimated Value: $1.3 billion

Our Take: The idea behind airbnb.com is one of the best I have heard to date. Suppose you are visiting Singapore for 10 days and you want to rent an apartment. You have no clue about it because it is your first time visit. What do you do? You contact airbnb.com and give them the task of finding a local apartment on a short term rental at your affordable budget. Sound interesting?

Airbnd.com is an innovative service that will look for apartments on a short term rental basis and their services are available globally. If you don’t want to be put up in hotels, this is an alternative option. Quite creative…eh!

In 2011, they had about $500 million in gross merchandise sales. Impressive!

40. Trulia.com

CEO: Pete Flint

Business Idea: Real estate listing giant

Estimated Value: $700 million

Our Take: Trulia.com is speedily taking over Zillow.com and becoming one of the biggest real estate companies in the US. Here, members can buy and sell properties conveniently.

Real estate is another business that never goes out of vogue; hence, if Trulia.com takes their steps right, they have a lot of potential…

There is no report of how much revenue it generated in 2011, insiders say it was more than double from 2010 revenues.

We come to the end of today’s list. While writing this, I noticed something interesting. Almost all the startups are based in California,USA! Hmm…Why? No idea…

Watch out for the final list, followed by some tips to begin your startup business online.

Startup Companies – Part 5

50 Startup Companies to get inspired in 2012 – Part 3

You can read the first and second startup companies list before you read the third one. As you must have noticed by now, you don’t need an insane amount of personal capital for any startup business.

All you need is the zeal to convince investors and sooner or later, they will be flocking to invest in your business.

Anyways, let’s now see the next 10 inspirational startups to join this list.

21. Bleacher Report

CEO: Brian Grey

Business Idea: Sports news website

Estimated Value: $120 million

Our Take: Who says you cannot get free content? The Bleacher Report is one such example where Start-up Companies a website with 20 million active readers has been created solely on the unpaid contributions of its voluntary writers!

The Bleacher Report is an analytical sports editorial and is now one of the topmost web based sports journals. In August 2011, the company received $22 million in funding and this year, their valuation is $120 million.

Oak Investment Partners and Crosslink Capital are some of the investors in the Bleacher Report startup.

22. Right Scale

CEO: Michael Crandell

Business Idea: Full scale cloud management services

Estimated Value: $110 million

Our Take: Every small and big company online wants to use cloud management services for data storage and maintenance. Right Scale is one such company that provides a slew of cloud management services.

DAG Ventures, Benchmark Capital and Index Ventures are some of its investors. Since there are many other cloud management services, this company has been valued at a modest $110 million.

From our perspective, if anyone were to start a cloud management service, its best to target the local businesses before going global as it will get better exposure and brand value.

23. S.B Nation

CEO: Jim Bankoff

Business Idea: Sports directory cum local sports community

Estimated Value: $75 million

Our Take: People at SB Nation created a directory of sports blogs available in the US. They focus on both the national and the local levels; they create community based sports news across the country.

This is a new kind of initiative for sports lovers. Such kind of directories can pull in a lot of traffic, especially when sports are such a favorite topic with everyone.

In 2011, it had an estimated revenue of about $20 million and its expected that with proper guidance, the revenues will soar higher this year.

24. Better Works

CEO: Paige Craig

Business Idea: Creating work environment for businesses

Estimated Value: $100 million

Our Take: This is a new business concept; at least we haven’t heard it previously. Here, businesses can set up and create a rewarding work environment for their employees. Of course, I think the business needs to be completely online regulated to make use of this initiative.

Here, the employees are encouraged to use Better Works as a rewarding social platform because they are rewarded regularly for their collaboration. Better Works has potential this year and hopefully, in the coming years as well, because they are trying to create a congenial and stress free working environment which not every business tries to provide.

Red Point Ventures invests in Better Works.

25. Instagram.com

CEO: Kevin Systrom

Business Idea: iPhone photo sharing tool

Estimated Value: $100 million

Our Take: Investors love businesses which has a wider user base. This is the reason why industry insiders peg Instagram.com at $100 million even though it DOES NOT have any revenue model yet!

Instagram.com is a tool used by iPhone users to share images with other iPhone users mainly. In less than a year, it has managed about 9 million active users and the traffic on its site is growing very vast.

I guess they are waiting for the right time to monetize the site.

26. Rent the Runway

CEO: Jennifer Hyman

Business Idea: Renting dresses

Estimated Value: $105 million

Our Take: Rent the Runway is the ideal solution for people who cannot afford to buy expensive dresses but can surely afford to rent them. This company manages to rent selective dresses at a fraction of the cost when compared to the real value of a dress.

The renter chooses a dress, wears it and then returns it. It is perfect if you are looking for high-end dresses for special occasions. In 2011, Rent the Runway had approximately $20 million in revenues and $6 million in 2010.

With better online marketing and inclusion of more geographical areas, the business can reach a wider scale of renters and increase their revenue scales.

27. Clickable

CEO: David Kidder

Business Idea: Software for SEM

Estimated Value: $100 million

Our Take: Perhaps this could be an alternative to Google AdWords? Clickable software manages online PPC (pay per click) campaigns for small, medium and large businesses. It is easier to use and customize for advertisers and deliver on select platforms.

In the past year, its revenue has grown 200% and it has immense growth potential in 2012.

28. Break Media

CEO: Keith Richman

Business Idea: Men centered content network

Estimated Value: $120 million 

Our Take: It is a content based media company that produces both publishable and video content centered on men only. It is a humor based content network that also has gaming groups and editorial groups.

The USP behind its success is “entertainment.” They managed to earn about $60 million revenue in 2011 solely because of their humorous entertaining content. Isn’t this what all blogs seek to achieve? Well…here is your inspiration then.

29. Café Mom

CEO: Michael Sanchez

Business Idea: Social networking community for moms

Estimated Value: $130 million

Our Take: In barely a few years, Café Mom has become one of the most popular social networking sites for moms – where moms can join the community and share their experience with fellow moms.

This site has targeted a niche which is very active online and gives immense income potential. In 2011, they generated $35 million approximately in revenues.

30. Xirrus.com

CEO: Dirk Gates

Business Idea: Wi-Fi connectivity

Estimated Value: $140 million

Our Take: In a world becoming connected with the Internet exclusively, a service like that of Xirrus.com is necessary because it provides high performance Wi-Fi connectivity for individuals and businesses.

In 2011, it generated about $70 million in revenues.

In the next series, we will see another 10 inspiring startup companies. Go through these 30 startup companies again – Part 1, Part 2 – and think about your next winning business idea!

Startup Companies – Part 4

50 Startup Companies to get inspired in 2012 – Part 2

I hope you enjoyed Part 1 of this series. Here are 10 more wonderfully inspiring startup companies for 2012.

Valuation Source: BusinessInsider.com

11. EHarmony.com

CEO: Jeremy Verba

Business Idea: Finding real / serious relationships

Estimated Value: $800 million

Our Take: The reason behind eHarmony.com success is its USP – they promote the website as a Best Startup Companies destination where members can find “serious relationships” – and in a world where love is a rare find, this USP line surely gets a lot of attention from people.

Compared to this, most of the other online dating sites are filled with people who are looking for one-night stands or just casual dating.

In 2010, the company earned about $250 million in revenues, followed by approximately $300 million in 2011.

12. Angie’s List

CEO: William S.

Business Idea: Local service reviews

Estimated Value: $700 million

Our Take: How important it is to you to know what kind of services / products a person is selling and what other people think about them before you personally use them? This personalized local review service is provided by the Angie’s List. More than five investors are stakeholders in this company.

This is a good idea to start your own local review service for your location. Angie’s List too has good future prospects because of their unique business idea.

13. One Kings Lane

CEO: Doug Mack

Business Idea: Home Décor sale site

Estimated Value: $440 million

Our Take: One Kings Lane is the place where you can buy any kind of luxury décor item for your home. It is a one-stop home décor sale site. Some people might argue that buying décor items online can be misleading because you are not really “seeing” the product before buying but one look at One Kings Lane tells us that it is a very well crafted online shopping site.

You don’t need to really “see” the product before buying; the images tell you all. The Wall Street Journal predicts that it will earn about $100 million in revenue this year.

14. Stella & Dot

CEO: Jessica Herrin

Business Idea: Selling jewelry at private home parties

Estimated Value: $400 million

Our Take: This is a business that deals with only elite clientele. This has growth opportunities only when you can manage a never ending list of elite clientele who organize regular parties and allows you to sell merchandise.

Stella & Dot deals with jewelries only which are sold in private parties. This is a good idea for you if you have attractive products to sell to private clients.

Sequoia Capital has valued the company at $370 million.

15. Imperva.com

CEO: Shlomo Kramer

Business Idea: Application and Database security

Estimated Value: $300 million

Our Take: With small, medium and heavy online business starting daily, it is important to protect business information with utmost privacy. Imperva.com provides cloud based security for business database and application.

Accel Partners, Meritech Capital Partners and USVP are some of the investors in this company. In 2011, they generated about $80 million in revenues, $25 million more than in 2010.

16. Brightcove.com

CEO: Jeremy Allaire

Business Idea: Cloud video hosting service

Estimated Value: $240 million

Our Take: Online businesses are increasingly taking to cloud computing services for data storage and preservation. If your business deals with lots of videos for any purpose, Brighcove.com would be a good option for video cloud content services.

Its products and services can distribute professional digital media across various platforms. Brightcove.com can be used to create media experience across tablets, PCs, Smartphone’s and connected TVs.

In the first 6 months of 2011, it had generated $28.4 million in revenues and approx of $75 million in the whole year.

17. Etsy.com

CEO: Rob Kalin

Business Idea: Selling homemade and handmade crafts

Estimated Value: $225 million

Our Take: Etsy.com is considered the eBay for arts and crafts industry. Here you can sell any arts and crafts that are homemade and handmade. It is a very good business platform for stay-at-home moms and retired people.

There is a plethora of options on Etsy.com. Just create an account, upload product images, add description, add price and go “live.”

In 2011, Etsy.com had $75 million in revenues and $50 million in 2010.

18. Sugar Inc.

CEO: Brian Sugar

Business Idea: eCommerce network for women

Estimated Value: $210 million

Our Take: Women entrepreneurs are breaking the invisible glass slowly and setting their mark on the online world of business. Catering to this growing section of entrepreneurs, Brain Sugar’s startup is an eCommerce, content and social media network for women entrepreneurs only.

In return, Sugar Inc. makes money from eCommerce sales, lead generation and in advertisement revenue. This company is a potentially beneficial platform for women looking for a startup option.

In 2011, the Sugar Inc revenue was $70 million.

19. Recycle Bank

CEO: Jonathan Hsu

Business Idea: Promoting clean technology in households

Estimated Value: $200 million

Our Take: Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is popular with large corporate houses but here is a guy who has turned green and safe living into his business while convincing thousands of people on the merits of using clean and green technology.

The Recycle Bank Company works in partnership with cities, motivating households to recycle their waste, and in doing so, they earn redeemable points at Recycle Bank associated networks.

The company raised $70 million in venture capital last year.

20. Return Path

CEO: Matt Blumberg

Business Idea: E-mail marketing

Estimated Value: $200 million

Our Take: Usually we don’t see email marketing companies getting listed on popular startup lists but this one made it. The company deals with email marketing only and since any kind of business would need a way to build a consumer base, email marketing is always a success.

In 2011, they earned $45 million in revenue, a 35% revenue increase from 2010.

Read the inspirational startups in first section also. You might get some business ideas yourself.

Startup Companies – Part 3

50 Startup Companies to get inspired in 2012 – Part 1

It has been often said that starting a company online and making it a success is a herculean task. Startup Companies If you are still waiting for the million dollar idea to strike or if you are already contemplating launching an online business, take a look at these 50 startup companies who are the “shining stars” of 2012.

The list of startup companies below is not given in any particular rank nor is it in alphabetical order. Read and be inspired! Who knows…you might get an idea or two reading this.

Startup Companies to get inspired in 2012

Valuation Source: BusinessInsider.com

1. Coupons.com Inc.

CEO: Steven Boal

Business Idea: Selling coupons online

Estimated Value: $1 billion

Our Take: Selling coupons online is a wonderful idea because of two reasons: first, you get goods and services at discounted prices; second, you get to save money. So if you find a service which gives you money saving coupons, won’t you just grab it?

This is the selling idea and the reason why Coupon.com Inc is so successful. They’ve been in business since 1998 and presently, they serve about 65,000 websites on a daily basis. Their estimated revenue in 2011 was $100 million and thus, the company is valued at $1 billion for 2012, two times their 2011 revenue.

2. Gilt Groupe

CEO: Kevin Ryan

Business Idea: Private selling of fashion luxury brands – members only

Estimated Value: $1.05 billion

Our Take: The second decade of the millennia is the age of eCommerce – online shops. While many online eCommerce shops are cropping up in every country, how about an eCommerce site that gives personal attention to buyers and feeds your luxurious lifestyle by giving the best of fashion brands?

This is what the Gilt Groupe does…its USP is its members-only eCommerce platform and judging by their vast collection of luxury items, it is safely catering to the elite and higher upper middle class buyers with money to spend. They follow the word-of-mouth (WOM) strategy since purchasing from this brand is “by-invitation” only.

In case you are wondering its success ratio, look at its revenues – $270 million in 2010 and $500 million in 2011.

3. Zulily.com

CEO: Darrell Cavens

Business Idea: Daily deals only for moms and kids

Estimated Value: $700 million

Our Take: You see hundreds of daily deal sites globally but Zulily.com is niche based. They have targeted the industry which can never go out of business – moms and kids – much like the wedding industry is never without business.

The business is dedicated to bring daily deal offers for moms and kids around the world, including accessories and clothing at discounted rates. Meritech Capital Partners, Maveron, and August Capital are the investors in this business.

4. Chegg.com

CEO: Dan Rosensweig

Business Idea: Renting textbooks to students online

Estimated Value: $600 million

Our Take: Education is not affordable anymore. Admission in a local college means heavy money; add to it the escalating costs of books. The traditional system of taking textbooks to class has changed. Now you are expected to carry Mac and Kindle. A service like Chegg.com is very beneficial as it allows you to rent textbooks and most importantly, the online textbooks are optimized for PC, Mac and iPad.

This startup has huge potential in 2012 because it is feeding an ever growing market of learners and educationists.

5. Media Bank

CEO: Bill Wise

Business Idea: Advertisement

Estimated Value: $500 million

Our Take: If you are running a business, you know the value of getting an effective medium to display your business, that is, the importance of getting the right place at the right value for business exposure. This is where Media Bank comes in.

Media Bank analyzes and offers a set of tools to help you in media buying. Typical questions like “will investing in print media be helpful or digital media?” is answered by the Media Bank team.

The service has growth potential because business owners are looking at value for money; they are no more blindly buying ad spaces. They want results. Media Bank gives results.

6. Indeed.com

CEO: Paul Forster

Business Idea: Search engine for jobs

Estimated Value: $450 million

Our Take: Talk about a business model that gets content for free, doesn’t need to spend a dime on advertisement marketing and in fact, earns through pay-per-click system and you have Indeed.com.

Indeed.com aggregates job listings from the web and builds its own directory of jobs. With thousands of employees being shown the pink slip every week, the business model of Indeed serves to connect a prospective employer and employee.

It’s pegged at $450 million in revenues for 2012, a sharp rise from $50 million in 2010 and $100 million in 2011.

7. Wikimedia Foundation (Wikipedia)

Executive Director: Sue Gardner

Business Idea: Online knowledge encyclopedia

Estimated Value: $4 billion

Our Take: Wikipedia is the Pandora box of knowledge, contributed by millions of Wikipedia users. As a complete non-profit organization, it runs off donations and volunteer work – on this strength solely, Wikipedia is the top 10 online resource of the world.

If it is turned to a commercial “for-profit” organization, its earning potential is huge as a content sharing / knowledge based platform. It is a valuable startup which shows you don’t need immense capital to start an online venture – the required capital can be raised for running a business and its focus on volunteer work shows the CSR side of Wikimedia Foundation.

8. Yelp

CEO: Jeremy Stoppelman

Business Idea: Local business recommendations/social business networking

Estimated Value: $800 million

Our Take: You have just moved in to London and you are looking for the local construction service provider…how do you find one? You sign up with Yelp. The Yelp business model works on creating and optimizing a local business search engine along with giving members the chance to connect with fellow people – its like knowing your neighborhood online…fascinating!

In 2012, Yelp will face stiff competition from Google Places and their recently acquired Zagat.com.

9. Flipkart.com

CEO: Sachin Bansal

Business Idea: eCommerce business

Estimated Value: $350 million

Our Take: The genesis of Flipkart.com is all about being in the right place at the right time – seizing the opportunity. Before Flipkart.com started, there were other eCommerce portals in India but this business has left behind all those and turned into the top eCommerce site in India.

The success behind Flipkart.com is its COD (Cash-on-Delivery) system. Why? Unlike the US and other western countries, Indians are not that forthcoming with giving their credit/debit card details online; hence, introducing the COD system gave the company two things every business needs – trust and goodwill.

This shows that business is not about aping others – you have to understand the particular market.

BTW, Sachin Bansal is an ex-Amazon.com employee…so you know where the inspiration is coming from!

10. Habbo.com

CEO: Timo Soininen

Business Idea: Virtual hotel

Estimated Value: $300 million

Our Take: Frankly, I don’t quite understand the idea behind opening a virtual hotel membership and interacting with it as you would do in a real hotel but seeing the kind of financial success Habbo.com has managed, it seems the virtual world is truly the “in” thing!

They have about 80 million registered users (WOW!) who just laze around in the sun, play games, dine in and do a lot of other stuff in the virtual hotel…seems the makers behind Habbo.com are giving people relaxing activities online while getting their piece of the pie. ($300 million is not a joke!)

Let’s stop here today. Stay tuned for another 40 of amazing startups.

PS: I used the word “feed” / “feeding” here more often. Did you notice that? NO…You are not ready to be an online business owner yet.

Unless you understand what the market demands and find a solution to “feed” that demand…keep thinking and researching business ideas.

Startup Companies – Part 2